The Legacy of Michael Young

Two weeks ago, Michael Young announced his retirement from baseball.  It came as somewhat of a surprise to fans and executives around the league, as the 13-year-veteran was still performing at a high level.

He made the decision so that he could spend time with his two sons, who are growing up quickly. Young says he wants to see his boys grow up and play high school baseball.

When he decided to leave the game for good, not only did the MLB lose a great player, but an icon.

Young made his Major League debut with a struggling Rangers team in 2000, and he never looked back.  He went on to have a very successful career in Texas, and he is currently their leader in hits and runs scored.

He was traded to the Phillies last offseason, and ended his career playing for the Dodgers.  Even though he didn’t put up the numbers he once did, he was still one of the best guys in the game.  He was an invaluable teammate, and was a near-perfect role model for kids growing up.

He was not only a genuinely good person, but he was also was one of the best contact hitters during his time as a Ranger.  Young hit over .300 seven times in his career, led the MLB in hits twice (’05 and ’11), and played in seven All-Star Games.  His biggest All-Star performance was in 2006, when he was named MVP thanks to his clutch run-scoring triple that gave the American League the victory.  He also won the Gold Glove in 2008 at shortstop.

Other players around the league thought so highly of Young that they voiced their admiration for him shortly after his announcement.

A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers’ catcher, took to Twitter to admire Young.  Despite only playing with Young for a few months, he called Young the “best teammate in the game.”

Michael Cuddyer tweeted that he had the “utmost respect for Michael Young.”

Josh Hamilton, who played with Young for a few years while a Ranger, said that “commitment, leadership, and sacrifice personifies Michael Young.”

An example of the sacrifice that Hamilton referenced was Young’s willingness to be such a versatile player.  His best position was second base, but then moved to shortstop to help the team.  He excelled at short, but when the Rangers top prospect at the time, Elvis Andrus, came to the MLB, Young moved over to third.  He also played a little first base whenever he was needed.

He also spent some time as a designated hitter and was a stellar pinch hitter for the Dodgers last season.

Young retires with some impressive stats, including 2,375 career hits, 1,137 runs, and exactly a .300 career batting average.

He had pending offers from the Dodgers and Brewers, but he repeatedly said he preferred to leave the game on “his terms,” not anyone else’s.

So, when he announced his retirement, baseball lost more than just a solid defender with a pure right-handed swing.  They lost arguably the best teammate in the league, and a true example of how to play the game.

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